46 infected with HIV in UP's Unnao as quack injects medicine

A quack allegedly infected 46 people with the dreaded HIV in Uttar Pradesh's Unnao district over the last 10 months using the same syringe to administer injections, officials said today.

In a shocking manifestation of abysmal lack of public health care facilities, Rajendra Kumar allegedly used a single syringe for injections while promising affordable treatment to his patients, causing at least 46 of them to contract the virus that can cause killer Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

A case has been registered against the fake medical practitioner, Chief Medical Officer of Unnao Dr S P Chaudhary said.

The Centre has, meanwhile, despatched a team of experts to Unnao for an inquiry into the incident the medical fraternity termed a "criminal" act.

"During a routine screening from April to July, 12 HIV positive cases were reported from Bangarmau tehsil alone. During another screening in November, another 13 cases were reported from the same place," the CMO said.

"After noticing the high number of cases, the health department constituted a two-member committee which visited various hamlets of Bangarmau to investigate the reasons behind the spurt," he said.

Chaudhary said the team visited Premganj and Chakmirpur areas of Bangarmau and filed a report, based on which screening camps were held at three places on January 24, 25 and 27.

"In these camps, 566 people were examined, of whom 21 were found to be infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus)," the CMO said, adding, in all, 46 people were infected with the deadly virus.

Chaudhary said Rajendra Kumar, living in a neighbouring village, had used a single syringe for injection in the name of cheaper treatment.

"This was the reason behind the significant rise in the number HIV cases," he said, adding the patients have been referred to Anti-retroviral Therapy (ART) centre in Kanpur.

ART consists of a combination of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs to maximally suppress HIV and stop its progression. It also prevents onward transmission of HIV, he said.

The state's Health Minister, Sidhartha Nath Singh, told PTI, "It was because of the health camps that such cases came to our notice. Based on this, we are finding out what happened ... A quack had started this, and police will soon catch him."

SP of Unnao Pushpanjali said, "On the complaint of Dr Pramod Kumar Dohrey, the in-charge of Bangarmau community health centre, a case has been registered against the quack for negligent act likely to spread infection dangerous to life, voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means, and Section 15(3) of the Indian Medical Council Act."

According to the Union health ministry, a three member team, comprising officials from National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) headed by Asha Hedge, has left for Unnao to ascertain the facts. It will subit a report to the government within two to three days.

In 2011, 28 children suffering from thalassemia (a blood disorder) were allegedly infected with HIV virus in a hospital Gujarat's Junagadh following blood transfusion.

The CBI probed the matter and later submitted a closure report exonerating the hospital where the tranfusion took place and the blood bank from where the blood was sourced.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)